Different Dialogues : Dr. R. K. Kapoor – Ophthalmologist

In conversation with Dr. R. K. Kapoor – Ophthalmologist.


Educational Background: M.B.B.S. Topiwala National Medical College, Mumbai (India).  D.O.M.S. (C.P.S.) Mumbai (India).  D.O. (London) Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorefield Group of Hospitals, London.  M.S. (Ophthalmology), Grant Medical College, Mumbai (India).


Professional Background:  Specialty in Ophthalmic Sciences.  Intra-ocular Lens Implantation for Cataract Surgery.  Squint, Glaucoma, Corneal Transplant and Oculoplastics.  Neuro-ophthalmology, Eye related Diabetes. 


Since 1966, each weekday morning, Dr. R. K. Kapoor has been going to Bombay Hospital to treat his patients.  He shared his poetess-mother’s dream and became an eye-doctor.  So fantastic was their combined dream that he spaces at the top, among the senior eye-surgeon in Mumbai, India. Way back in the 60’s, when he was leaving for U.K for his Post-Graduation, his mother slipped her poem in her son’s bag, captioned: Aankhein-Aankhein (Eyes-Eyes).  Dr. R. K. Kapoor recalls the memory as fresh as a fresh rose, picturing the conspicuous role the mater played.

Through his successful career, Dr. R. K. Kapoor has attended conferences in Germany, Spain, Canada, Moscow.  One of his first patient came from Ras Al Khaimah (U.A.E.).  Dr. R. K. Kapoor’s super-specialization is: total corneal transplant, squint, glaucoma (where the tension of the eyes gets high and the optic nerve gets damaged, leading to blindness).


The surgeon talked with passion about his book: Care of your Eyes, which is in its 3rd edition.  The book is a true gospel of guidance for lay public to guard and protect eyes.  The book covers trachoma to eye allergies to spectacles and contact lenses.  The book deals with eye care of children by parents.  He says, “My aim is to impart to my readers practical and routine knowledge of eye care for the normal eye to prevent the onset of blindness.”  He says, he wants people to make use of Care of your Eyes, so that they can arrest ailments in their primary stage and, thereby, get the best out of eye specialists.”


Dr. R. K. Kapoor has been lecturing actively and contributes to community eye service to avoid blindness.  He has been participating in: Free Eye Camps on a very regular basis.  Rajasthani Mahila Mandal, The Rotary Club, Netra Shastra Kriya Kendra are some of the examples of philanthropic acts by the kind doctor.  He began community service since 1968.  His first charity-venture started in a village called Nirmal, located in Vasai, a suburb of Mumbai.  He has 11 eye camps to his credit where over 1100 cataract operations have been successfully performed by him and his team of assistants.  During the weekends, he stayed overnight and inspected all cases with his resident assistants.  He ‘influences’, ‘inspires’ his team with his own surge for contribution.


Dr. R. K. Kapoor considers India as a leading country, today, for management of cardiac, neuro, ophthalmologic, orthopedic (Joint Replacement) and destination for Health Tourism.  He says with pride, “People are coming for treatment from U.A.E., Italy, Libya, Kenya, U.K, Mauritius.  India is having outstanding medical technology available at all levels.  Expertise of doctors and surgeons is at low cost in India as compared to other leading countries.”


I asked Dr. R. K. Kapoor if in his entire career there were instances where prayer worked when medicine did not work.  He replied, “Absolutely, there is something so much ‘beyond’ human faculties.  That’s divinity which works more than medicine.”


In 1998, Dr. R. K. Kapoor attended lectures on Art of Living and is driven by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s philosophy.  He quotes Buddha frequently.  He elaborates Buddha’s philosophy by stating that the end of suffering is awakening and each of us has to find the answer for our suffering.  The eye-surgeon’s view on spirituality is inspired by reading books of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Sukhabodhananda.  He refers to Buddha again and states, “You have to live in the present, learn from the past and plan for the future.”  If a rather broader field of advice is to be taken from Dr. R. K. Kapoor, then, meditation is the magic which will put us in the skill to organize our lives.  He includes meditation as a whole part and parcel to cover his wholesome daily time-table.


The doctor believes, science and spiritualism are very much bound together.  Beaming with conviction, he said, “Science gives you the technical answers.  Spiritualism gives answers of the soul.  There are 3 ways of living.  1) To Face.  2) To Quit.  3) To Change.  I believe in facing a challenge and making the necessary practical change to make life what it ought to be in the true sense.”


Listening to the words of the eye-surgeon, my primary thoughts were re-ignited that one can awaken in himself, in his own spiritual self.  After the interview in his clinic, I walked out thinking, according to the logic of probability – Dr. R. K. Kapoor will keep re-emerging like a beam of light… to divert sickness which deprives sight.


Q 1.  What has been the turning point of your life?
A.    On my return from England after Post-Graduation in Ophthalmology, I had two appointments as a consultant. One from Bombay Hospital and the other from University of Nigeria, with an affiliation to the University of London. I accepted Bombay Hospital, even though the Nigerian offer had perks, money and travels abroad.  All avenues of practice of high tech surgery, with foreign tour funds, and travel opened up for me in India.  I was asked to pass MS, Ophthalmology from the University of Bombay, which with luck I did in one year.


Q 2.  If you could go back in time, what would you want to do?
A.    To build my own eye hospital of super specialty and hi-tech Ophthalmic Sciences.  With like minded, eye specialists in a small town away from the main city of Bombay, and near the grass roots.  This city is sky rocketing in expenses, noise pollution, and poor infrastructure.  I also would have liked to teach young Post-Graduates in the art of practice in Ophthalmology


Q 3.  What are your future dreams?
A.   Write on avoidable blindness, eye donations and make a feature film on eye donations.  Both these are in the pipe line.  I am keen also to develop software in which the language of Braille can be accessed by the blind on the computer, with special tools of sound and voice.  In fact, a mobile phone with a Braille keypad I think would do wonders.  I therefore dream that all schools for the blind would tutor their children in the use of this system.  Also, on a personal front, I still hold a dream to travel and see the beauty and natural landscape of my own country, India, which I have missed all along, e.g. Kashmir (not seen), Himalayan Belt, Golden Temple, Rishikesh.  I have travelled and seen most of the countries in the world, except China, Switzerland and Australia.  At one point in my life the good old USSR was like second home to me, I would love to visit again.


Geeta Chhabra


The interview was conducted in December 2011.